Understanding what the weather in like in Hong Kong means that you also need to understand a little about the climate. Sure, you can pull up a weather app easily enough to see what the next 7 days or so have in store – and this is fine if you’re only making a flying visit and want to know what to pack.
But what if you’re planning to move to Hong Kong – perhaps for work or to join family out there? In such a scenario, knowing what to expect from the climate on a longer-term basis becomes much more important.
Hong Kong is under the influence of what’s known as a humid sub-tropical climate. What this means is that there are 4 distinct seasons. These are also influenced by tropical cyclones and typhoons. With that in mind, let’s look at what to expect from the weather and climate at various time of the year.
Spring lasts from March to May, and the average temperatures hover between 17 degrees (Celsius) to 26 degrees. Humidity is rising at this time of year, and you’ll find drizzle and sometimes fog. Sometimes this combination causes air and ferry services to be disrupted because of the poor visibility.
Although the days are pleasantly warm, the temperatures in the evening can be cool enough to need a jacket. Along with this, make sure you have some wet weather gear handy too, to cope with getting caught in any showers.
This covers the months from late May through to mid-September. At this time of year, it’s hot, Hot, HOT! Although the average temperature is a nice sounding 28 degrees, the mercury often climbs to 32 degrees and above. There’s plentiful sunshine, but it’s also very humid.
Showers and thunderstorms happen occasionally, so keep that waterproof layer handy too. Because it’s the hot season, many outlets tempt people with greatly reduced rates to keep attendance up. So, if you’re into snapping up a bargain, check out Disney and Ocean Park, amongst other attractions.
This is a really pleasant time of the year. The temperature drops to a much more temperate 19-28 degrees, and the humidity lowers considerably. Breezes add to the mix, making these months of September to November the nicest of the year.
It’s definitely t-shirt weather, as there’s plenty of sunshine – you might just need a thin layer to cover up in the evenings.
December to February brings cool temperatures – with an average of 12-20 degrees. However, cold fronts can cause the temperature to further plummet – to below 10 degrees – quite regularly, but don’t be surprised if the mercury drops a lot further. It’s usually dry at this time of the year, and often plenty of cloud cover.
But this is the time to come if shopping’s your thing – because winter is sale time. It’s a popular time to visit, because although it’s much colder at this time of year, this is Hong Kong, after all, and – especially in December – you can still enjoy some lovely sunny days.
Typhoons and Tropical Cyclones
Typhoon season runs from May to November, although the peak times are July to September (during this time it’s expected that they’ll be at least one per month). During the rest of the season, the risk drops to around 30 per cent.
Although this might sound worrying, the typhoons are only dangerous if the eye of the storm passes very close to Hong Kong – and in general, this rarely happens. Since 1987, only one such event has occurred.
The main issue with typhoons is the wind, which can last up to 8 hours. Hong Kong has an excellent typhoon warning system, and most of the high-rise buildings are built specifically to withstand such events.
When a typhoon is imminent, it will be given a storm warning rating, so that everyone knows what to do. This is broadcast to the public as a ‘signal’. You can also check out any storm warnings on the Hong Kong Observatory website. There are 5 signals that are used to rate a storm, as follows:
- Signal 1: This means a storm that might develop into a typhoon is in the region. It’s simply telling everyone to be alert.
- Signal 3: Winds of up to 110 kms per hour, and the possibility of heavy rain. In general, public transport will still be running, but there can be some disruptions to flights and ferries. Some businesses might also close.
- Signal 8: Gale force winds of up to 180 kms per hour are expected imminently. Everything stops – public transport, taxis, flights, shops and businesses close, as do restaurants and schools. This warning is given in plenty of time to ensure everyone can get to a safe place. A signal 8 warning might stay in place for up to 24 hours – as much warning is given as possible.
- Signal 9 or 10: This is extremely rare – it’s when the eye of the storm is expected to directly hit Hong Kong, with hurricane winds causing destructive damage.
Now, this all might sound somewhat alarming. But Hong Kong is extremely well equipped for dealing with such storms. As an individual, you simply need to take a few common sense steps to ensure your safety. These are:
- If a signal 1 is posted, make sure you keep yourself posted about any changes and carry wet weather gear.
- If a signal 3 warning is posted, head for shelter and avoid any open areas.
- If a signal 8 warning is posted, ensure that the building you are in is designed to withstand such storms (most tourist buildings are). Have a little water, food and a torch (flashlight) with you, with spare batteries and a candle as a back up. You only need have enough food and water to last a day or two.
- In the very rare event of a category 9 or 10 signal, in addition to the last point, it’s advisable to keep away from windows, or to even tape them up.
In summary, Hong Kong benefits from a warm (sometimes hot), and humid climate, with the chance of tropical storms during spring and summer. Rain is common, but long sessions of sunshine make for a very outdoorsy lifestyle. Whatever time of year you visit, you’ll need to bring both your swimmers and a jacket.